(CN) – Lashing out at efforts by embattled Trump attorney Michael Cohen to bar him from the New York federal court overseeing the criminal probe of Cohen, Stormy Daniels’ lawyer said Monday he’s done nothing that should keep him from a court he’s already practiced in twice before.
In a 5-page filing, Daniels’ attorney Michael Avenatti said Cohen’s effort last week to fight Avenatti’s pro hac vice admission to the Southern District of New York – and Daniels’ intervention in any case that might arise there against Cohen – was “a highly improper attempt to soil Mr. Avenatti and unnecessarily lure and entangle this court into Mr. Cohen’s elaborate campaign to now discredit Mr. Avenatti.”
On May 9, a day after Avenatti published a report accusing President Donald Trump’s personal attorney of “likely” committing bank fraud and detailing $4.4 million in “suspicious” transactions,” Cohen urged U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood to reject Avenatti’s application.
According to Cohen, Avenatti’s report contained inaccurate statements. Meanwhile, things that were accurate involved private financial information that Avenatti shouldn’t have even possessed let alone made public, Cohen said.
In his response, Avenatti noted he’s been admitted to practice in the Southern District of New York and the Second Circuit previously, and Cohen failed to mention any legal reasons why Avenatti shouldn’t be admitted this time. Furthermore, Avenatti said he had a First Amendment right to publish the report about Cohen.
“That Mr. Cohen may be dismayed that these damaging revelations have come to light and have been proven true does not come remotely close to justifying a denial of Mr. Avenatti’s right to appear before this court,” Avenatti wrote. “As discussed in her motion to intervene, Ms. Clifford [Daniels’ given name] has very important and legitimate interests in protecting her records. She should not be denied counsel from representing and advancing those interests based on Mr. Cohen’s embarrassment resulting from discomforting information being made public.”
Avenatti said Cohen’s belief that Avenatti broke the law by publishing Cohen’s banking information is misguided.
“Even if Mr. Cohen’s allegations were true (and they are not), laws restricting disclosure of banking information and suspicious activity reports (SARs) apply to financial institutions and government entities, not third parties,” Avenatti wrote.
Avenatti represents Daniels in a lawsuit against Trump, Cohen and a company Cohen set up to pay Daniels $130,000 in hush money ahead of the 2016 presidential elections. Daniels says Trump and Cohen tried to buy her silence about an affair she claims she had with Trump years ago, shortly after Trump married current wife Melania Trump.
Daniels sued Cohen and Trump to get out of the agreement, and on defamation claims over various things both have said about her and the hush agreement in the press and on Twitter. Her case, recently removed to Los Angeles federal court, has been stayed pending the criminal probe of Cohen.